Mexico: Grape exporter works with Whole Foods to boost worker living conditions
A Mexican table grape and asparagus exporter has developed a strong social responsibility program which has seen a water supply system established for hundreds of its workers.
Verzacruz-based Campos Borquez developed the program in conjunction with supermarket chain Whole Foods and Fair Trade USA to benefit the company's employees and their families, many of whom lacked many basic services.
Campos Borquez started operating around 30 years ago and currently has 1,660 hectares of table grapes and asparagus production. It employs around 2,000 people during the harvest period, which runs for 10 months a year.
Speaking to www.freshfruitportal.com at the recent Amsterdam Produce Show, Campos Borquez vice president Sergio Borquez said social responsibility had been one of the company's key values since its creation, adding it began working with Whole Foods and Fair Trade USA since 2013.
"Our motivation is that we believe that a business must be capable of creating wealth for all and we want everyone who is involved in Campos Borquez's operations to also benefit from the company's growth," he said.
He said it was important for there to be a 'mutual relationship' that improves the living conditions of the workers.
The organization started with the installation of a free dental clinic that has had 3,017 appointments to date, along with an ophthalmology clinic that has received more than 1,000 over three years.
The biggest problem, however, was the lack of an adequate water supply system in workers' homes.
"The community had three natural wells, which we used as a source for the piping system to the houses," Borquez said.
Prior to the supply system, women and children often had to walk 5km from their community in Tierra Nueva twice a day and bring back 20 liters of water.
"This meant that the children could not go to school because they had to go and get water for their homes, or that the mothers could not spend their time on other activities that could generate income," he said, adding diarrhea and dehydration had been common problems in community beforehand.
The water supply system was funded 85% by Whole Foods and 15% by Campos Borquez, and now provides water to the workers' houses year-round.
Borquez said the installation was a major project, and involve the community's residents entirely in the process.
"This project has concluded and we are now carrying out two other projects, one involving the construction of roofs in Chiapas - we have already built 40 - and the other is a transport system to take the workers' children to Sonora," he said.